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How popular is the rural office?22nd April 2014

Rural office popularity is on the rise againAs faster broadband slowly rolls its way out across the countryside, rural offices are starting to gain in popularity once more, with businesses increasingly seeking out of town premises for a variety of reasons, ranging from lifestyle to cheaper rents.

The supply, too, for rural offices is due to rise over the next few years as a result of the Government's relaxation in planning regulations under the Permitted Development Rights, which makes it easier for landowners to convert farm buildings into offices.

The types of businesses taking leases in the country tend to be "clean" businesses such as designers, IT and marketing consultants, according to Chartered Surveyor Andrew Robinson, a partner with propert specialist Andrew Granger & Co.

Mr Robinson said: "It's a lifestyle choice for many owners. Some firms like to project a certain eco image, so a few designer cows go down well, but one of the key reasons people choose to locate out of town is to avoid the rush hour and save on commute time." 

In the East Midlands the types of rural office properties available varies enormously from desk space to entire buildings. Popular spots include South Leicestershire and Charnwood Forest.

Rents, however, are similar to those in towns and range from £12 to £14 per sq ft for new offices  and £6-£10 per sq ft for second hand space. But what is proving most attractive to tenants is flexible leases, as rural landlords tend to be more relaxed about than urban landlords.

But it is equally important to weigh up the disadvantages of basing a business in a rural location, such as flooding, poor accessibility and too much distance between your company and its potential tenants.

For many farmers, the key to diversifying successfully lies in good broadband speed and wonderful views - get those both right and there are plenty of tenants looking for a tenancy.

Mr Robinson emphasised that landowners should ensure their plans meet the needs of rural businesses before embarking on any development. “You don’t need to spend a fortune converting buildings or developing new ones, but you can get it wrong,” he says. “You’d be surprised how often farmers make basic mistakes like putting a lovely new office next to a slurry pit. A bit of objectivity goes a long way.”

Written by Richenda Oldham

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